As is always, MAJOR SPOILER! If you’ve yet to watch, take heed; it’s a goodun (you’ll need a cuppa after this one).
After years of misfortune and misery, it seems dear Sansa (Sophie Turner) is on a stroke of luck. After escaping Ramsay Bolton’s clutches by jumping from Winterfell with Theon/Reek and being found by Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod, she has now been delivered (finally) to one of the remaining members of her family after 239751 false starts. Seeing Sansa and Jon set eyes on each other for the first time since Season 1 Episode 2 (yes, really) is surprisingly emotional; she’s all grown up whilst he is dead-undead. If the laws of nature were paramount, then their reunion would never have happened and we would have false-start-part-239752 on our hands – but alas, thankfully, they are not, and deservedly so; that poor girls needs a break.
This is as happy a reprieve as Game Of Thrones would ever get, and of course, it never lasts for long. With Jon (Kit Harington) at a loss of what to do following his resurrection, hanging of his mutineers and abdication of the title of Lord Commander, Sansa’s appearance gives him, if not hope, then at least a purpose. She is hellbent on revenge against the Boltons and retrieving Winterfell and the wider North from their clutches. It’s somewhat unnerving, watching Sansa speak words so often uttered by the Lannisters, but in wanting to take back what is theirs it transpires that she has matured into a woman, and not a moment too soon. A letter is delivered to Jon outlining Ramsay’s intentions for the Starks, including the fate of their youngest sibling Rickon. Sansa’s loathing for Ramsay is palpable; rue the day she finally get to stab the foul bastard through the heart, eh?
The Starks aren’t the only ones out to get Ramsay. Behold the return of Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen), he of the Littlefinger, the master manipulator. He returns to glorified mouth-puppet Lord Robin Arryn, Lysa’s son (you know, Littlefinger pushed her through the moon door) and cousin of Sansa. He’s also grown at Branflake’s weed like pace, yet is still pathetically awful at everything and spoiled to the core. Those who babysit him are either too servant or dim to control the power he can so readily dish out, which of course leaves him a sitting duck for being twisted around Littlefingers, er, little finger. His powers are in full swing in this short appearance; in five minutes flat he succeeds in subliminally threatening Ser Royce via Robin and convincing him to aid Sansa’s plight up North by offering the support of the Arryn army. After all, they are cousins, but what is Littlefinger set to gain? Sansa’s hand? Winterfell itself? We shall see.
It seems that most people tend to have a negative reaction to the heinous Ramsay, and suitably, Theon (Alfie Allen) is still running. Or sailing, should I say, for he’s fast on his way to the Iron Islands. His sister, Yara (Gemma Whelan), isn’t pleased to see him after she risked herself and her reputation to rescue him from Ramsay’s cells. She presumes he is there to stake his claim for King of the Iron Islands, but he surprises her by offering his support for her own. Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) himself makes a brief appearance doing bad things as he always does, though thankfully not to Rickon. Unfortunately, a knife in the throat leaves Osha (Natalia Tena) not so lucky; you would think she’d have had a less trivial death given her importance in prior seasons, but hey ho. An unfortunate waste of an interesting character.
Down in Kingslanding and the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) decides that it is high time to release Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) from her cell. It’s been a while; she is unaccustomed to the light, her hair is matted and she’s caked in her own shit but, as is expected for a woman of such conviction, her resolve is still strong. We can only assume that she has been released for a reason, as she has definitely not “Confess!”ed to her sins. What game is the High Sparrow playing? He recounts the Book of the Stranger and an anecdote about his own moment of awakening from a life of sin. He even allows Margaery to see her brother Loras , who is in a far worse state than she.
Whether Margaery knows it or not, it appears that the High Sparrow intends to have her repent by marching her through Kingslanding as he did with Cersei at the end of season 5. Surprisingly, Cersei (Lena Headley) has her back, not because she has grown fond of her daughter-in-law in her absence, but because allowing the queen to be humiliated as such could have dangerous repercussions for the monarchy. For once, she has both Olenna Tyrell (the wonderful Diana Rigg) and Kevan Lannister onside. They intend to intercept the walk of shame and storm the Sparrows, but having learnt of the High Sparrow’s plan via naive King Tommen, who vowed to keep it secret, we can only assume that in their acting as such, the Lannister-Tyrell coalition are walking in the exact direction that the High Sparrow would love them to. Various chips are being moved into place…
Over in Meereen and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has decided to bargain with the Masters of the other slave cities. Grey Worm and Missandei are not impressed, and rightly so for Tyrion, for all his misfortune, will never understand their experiences of being a slave. That said, in his giving the Masters a seven year buffer period to transition from slavery to liberation for the people of Slaver’s Bay, it may prove more sensible than Daenerys’ previous seize-and-deliver tactics, and may abate the Sons of the Harpy. But that is presuming that everyone sticks to their agreed terms of course, and when was the last time you’ve known a character in Game of Thrones to do that?
Elsewhere and hot on Daenerys’ heels, we finally rejoin with Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Daario Narharis (Michiel Huisman). They’re staking out Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki capital in an attempt to retrieve their Queen. Not that they’re getting along, with Daario intent on taking the piss out of the elder knight at every opportunity and Jorah’s increasingly stony arm weighing him down. Their initial attempt to breach the city isn’t very successful, but luckily for them Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) does the hard work for them. Riling up the Khals like a bunch of hissing snakes during her hearing may not seem like a smart move, but it doesn’t really matter when she proceeds to burn both them and the place down. The Dothraki tribes look on, bewildered, and even more so when Daenerys emerges from the flames Unburnt, like the Mother of Dragons she is.
So, Daenerys has expanded her army. A storm is brewing (once again) in Kingslanding and unbeknownst to them, Sansa and Jon have the Knights of the Vale on the way. What a jam-packed episode.
What does this mean for Daenerys; is she somehow a magical exception to the laws of physics? Can she burn at all? Will the Lannister-Tyrell alliance pay off, or are they walking straight into the High Sparrow’s trap? Will Jon and Sansa encounter Littlefinger and the Arryn army, and if so, what are Littlefinger’s intentions?
The ante is upped,and the pieces are falling into place.